Third Base Ventures, LLC, a new entity led by principal owner Craig Dickman, has reached an agreement to purchase the assets of Appleton Baseball Club. This purchase will bring the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders under new, local ownership.
The sale is a result of the unprecedented pandemic that continues to create much uncertainty throughout the country and the world, according to a press release.
Third Base Ventures includes minority owners Rob Zerjav and Brad Raaths. All three members of Third Base Ventures are natives of northeastern Wisconsin and are excited to continue the tradition of professional baseball in this area.
The new ownership group also has reached an agreement to purchase Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium from the Fox Cities Amateur Sports Authority.
“I am excited to rejoin the Timber Rattlers and be part of this exceptional organization,” Dickman said. “We are looking forward to welcoming fans back in 2021 and building the next chapter of professional baseball in Wisconsin.”
Zerjav, the current president of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, is in his 24th year with the organization. Raaths is a partner in the Madison-based law firm of DeWitt LLP where he focuses on corporate law and serves as outside general counsel to many of his clients.
The challenges of COVID-19 included losing the entire 2020 baseball season along with many of the key revenue-generating events held at the stadium each season. This put the team in an unprecedented financial situation. In order to save the franchise, the board of directors made the decision to sell the team to Third Base Ventures and a couple of familiar faces in Dickman and Zerjav to make sure that professional baseball stayed in the Fox Cities.
“At the beginning of the year, we understood there would be major changes made in the baseball world, but, when COVID-19 caused the economic shutdown and we lost the entire baseball season, we knew it would be difficult for the team to survive moving forward,” said Zerjav. “I have known Craig for almost 20 years and his track record speaks for itself. I truly believe our new ownership group will allow the team to not only survive this pandemic but thrive for many years to come.”
Fans will see virtually no changes to the day-to-day operations of the clubs, as Zerjav will remain as team president and CEO with the entire staff remaining in their current roles. The Timber Rattlers have been invited to remain as an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system under the new Player Development License system put in place by Major League Baseball. The Dock Spiders will continue to play at Herr-Baker Field on the campus of Marian University in Fond du Lac.